June 15, 2003 The Virgin Islands have fared well in the second wave of grants given to U.S. ports through the Port Security and Operation Safe Commerce programs, according to a release from the office of Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen.
The grants were issued June 12 under the direction of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, an agency of the Homeland Security Department, and are part of the Container Security Initiative, implemented after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks designed to enhance U.S. and international port security.
Christensen, a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and the House Port Security Caucus, said she is "pleased that our port directors were able to ensure that our ports were identified as critical infrastructure which indeed need the nation's protection."
V.I. recipients of grant money include:
– The Virgin Islands Port Authority: $1,493,996.
– HOVENSA: $1,340,000.
– The West Indian Co.: $359,103.
– The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority: $187,810.
– Sea Star Line, St. Thomas: $64,804.
In the first stage response to the Sept. 11 attacks the CSI was created to monitor cargo arriving at America's 20 busiest ports, according to TSA documents. Now that the goals of that program have been nearly achieved, the reach of the CSI is being expanded to include other ports that ship a substantial amount of cargo to the U.S.
The overall idea is for American and foreign port authorities to work together to identify, target and search high-risk cargo.
"I am pleased at the news that the Department of Homeland Security is deploying more inspectors to foreign ports to prevent the smuggling of harmful cargo into the country. Our territory can only benefit from this increased vigilance," Christensen said.
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